Home » Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address at Colorado College (Full Transcript)

Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address at Colorado College (Full Transcript)

Jeff Weiner, one of my friends and founder of LinkedIn says that, “Failure is what’s going to humble you”. It helps you realize how fleeting success can be, at least traditional measures of success. Because you realize that to some extent how it is just beyond your control, and you invest less in it, in terms of the way you define yourself.

Success in terms of achieving objectives in terms of manifesting a mission, in terms of manifesting a vision, that’s all good, especially, if what you do can create good in the world. But to the extent that you start to define yourself through traditional measures of success, to the extent that’s your source of self-esteem, you’re destined to be unhappy, because you cannot control it.

Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul, another one of my thought leaders that I admire says:

“The greatest wound we’ve all experienced is somehow being rejected for being our authentic self. And as result of that, we then try to be what we’re not to get approval: love, protection, safety, money, whatever that is.”

And the real need for all of us really is to reconnect with the essence of who we really are. Re-own all the disowned parts of ourselves, whether it’s our emotions, our spirituality, whatever. We all go around hiding parts of ourselves. He says he was with a Buddhist teacher a number of years ago. and that teacher said, ‘Here’s the secret: if you were to meditate for 20 years, this is where you’d finally get to: just be yourself, but be all of you.’

So I’ve made a living… not a living but a real life, from being true to myself, using the energy of my personality to actually serve the purpose of my soul. And that purpose I’m here to tell you gets revealed to you daily. It is not just one thing. It is the thread that is connecting the dots of everything that you do.

So when I first started television at 19, as I said, I was just happy to have a job. But later through experience, trial, error, some failures, recognized that my true purpose was to be an inspiration and a force for good, to allow people to see the best of themselves, through the work and the stories that we were able to tell.

And so that becomes my legacy.

I remember when I finished the school and I had gone to my mentor friend Maya Angelou’s house, Maya was making biscuits and she was teaching me how to make the biscuits.

And I said, “Maya, I’m so sorry you weren’t there for the opening of the school.”

She said, “Oh babe, I know it must have been beautiful.”

I said, “Yes, that school is going to be my greatest legacy.”

And she said, “You have no idea what your legacy will be.”

I said, “Oh no no, Maya, the school… those girls… that’s going to be my legacy.”

And she said as she put down the dough, ‘You have no idea what your legacy will be”.

And I said, ‘Yes ma’am’.

She said because your legacy is every life that you touch. And that I repeat everywhere, because it’s true. It’s not one thing, it’s everything. And the most important thing is, how you touch other people’s lives.

Every day you’re carving out the path even when it looks like you’re not. All your actions are creating equal and opposite reactions, which is the third law of motion in physics. What you put out is coming back. How you think and what you do is already being done unto you. That is my religion. I live by that.

And so that has created a very blessed and spectacular life for me. And I want the same for you. If I could actually teach a class on how to live your best life, it would contain all the gems I’ve learned from all the world’s leading thought leaders.

It would also contain some gems I have not, like yes it does pay to floss, yes you do need to look people in the eye when you speak to them. You need to keep your commitments. If you say you’re going to do something you need to do it. You need to make your bed every day. Because when you do that it makes the whole house look better.

But I put… and you need to not to bring your cell phones to the dinner table. I put many of those little gems, real gems from thought leaders and a little book I did with you graduates in mind. Because so many of my girls were finishing school with the anxiety of what do I do now, mama.

So I wrote- ‘The Path Made Clear’. It’s my stories of figuring it out with gems of wisdom from some of my favorite thought leaders like Jeff and Jack and Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, and many others.

And so since I know you just want to get that diploma, I’m going to save all my wisdom for the book and make sure you get one as you walk across the stage.

And here’s the deal, I’m going to hand you the book, I’m not going to take a selfie. But somebody will be there to take the picture.

And because you all, all of you showered and shaved and came all this way to support, I have made the e-book and the digital audio book version free today for the rest of the day until midnight, wherever books and digital audio books are sold in the United States and Canada. You can just go online and you can get your own digital version of ‘The Path Made Clear’. That’s Apple or Amazon or Google Play or Kobo.

So what does that mean? That means, that you get a book, and you get a book, and everybody gets a book.

Congratulations Class of 2019!

 

Resources for Further Reading: 

Oprah Winfrey Speech at Harvard Commencement 2013 (Full Transcript)

Tony Robbins: Creating an Extraordinary Quality of Life at Oprah Winfrey Network (Transcript)

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